With the growth of online education, there is naturally growing interest in online assessment tools. A quick search on the Internet will reveal a great deal of information.
(see for instance:
Moreover , most prominent learning management systems, such as Blackboard and WebCT come with built-in assessment tools which allow the development of questions and surveys with objective type as well as open-ended responses. These are useful in online education as they enable frequent testing and provision of feedback. However , they remain somewhat unsuited for assessing more complex learning activities such as group work and project work.
Threats to online assessment practices
With online education comes increasing problems with security and the authenticity of work that is submitted by students as part of their assessment requirements. As a result there has been growing concerns about the improper use of material from the Internet (see http://www.plagiarism.org/).In order to combat misuse of material from the Internet, software programs such as “Turnitin” have been developed (see http://www.turnitin.com/static/home.html). This software can be integrated and used with major learning management systems such as Blackboard and WebCT.
Assessment activities are most effective when they are accompanied with feedback. From a review of research on the
effects of feedback, Kulhavy (1977) concluded that while feedback can be used to correct errors in performance, feedback is more effective when it follows a student response (see also Naidu, 1994; 2003). However , Kulik and Kulik (1988) observed that feedback delivered following learners’ response is beneficial only under controlled and somewhat artificial conditions. They recommended immediate feedback for conventional educational settings.
Schimmel (1983) found that the amount of information infeedback was unrelated to its effects and Bangert-Drowns, Kulik,
Kulik and Morgan (1991) showed that feedback does not always increase achievement. From these general assessments of the effects of feedback, several conclusions can be drawn about feedback and the conditions of feedback in learning.
- At the simplest level, feedback is aimed at correcting errors in understanding and performance. However , like the assessment of learning outcomes, the provision of feedback is a lot more complex process.
- Feedback is usually designed to inform learners about the quality and/or the accuracy of their responses. This kind of feedback is specific and directly related to the performance of the prescribed task. It may be delivered directly to the learners, or mediated by information and communications technology.
- Feedback can be directed at different aspects of learning. Some feedback is primarily designed to influence affective learning outcomes such as motivation. Others might be directed at understanding of subject matter content.
2. Feedback may differ in terms of its content which is identifiable by:
- The amount of information proffered in the feedback;
- The similarity between information in the feedback and that in the learning and teaching transaction; and
- Whether the feedback restated information from the original task, referred to information given elsewhere, or provided new information.